DIVISION LEADERS SET SIGHTS ON MATCH FINALE
By Tom LaMarra
All of the horses in the running for divisional honors and the overall 2022 Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH) title are among the 98 nominees for the final leg on Oct. 3 at Parx Racing.
The Monday program at the Pennsylvania track will feature four $100,000 stakes: the Roamin Rachel (Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt division), Liberty Bell (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt division), Bucks County (3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Turf division) and Salvatore DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup (Filly and Mare Long–Turf division). The two dirt stakes are at 6 1/2 furlongs while the turf stakes will be run at 1 1/8 miles.
William Pape’s Deciding Vote, the overall MATCH Series leader with 26 points, is nominated to the DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup. Deciding Vote, trained by Edward Graham, is one of only two horses this year to have started in all four legs of a division leading to the final. If she starts at Parx, the minimum number of points she can earn–that includes 2 bonus points–is three, which would secure the division title.
Stuart Janney III’s In a Hurry is second with 17 points, two more than Timory Ridall’s Tic Tic Tic Boom. In a Hurry, who already has three MATCH Series starts and is eligible for bonus money, raced in the Grade III Athenia Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack Sept. 24 and probably will not start at Parx. Tic Tic Tic Boom, trained by Alan Bedard is based at Parx and with a fifth series start would pick up enough points to secure second place in the division.
No Guts No Glory Farm and CJI Phoenix Group’s Fille d’Esprit, currently tied with Kaylasaurus in her division with 22 points, is among the nominees to the Roamin Rachel. With Kaylasaurus still on the sidelines after being diagnosed with an injury before her planned fourth series start at Colonial Downs in August, the John Robb-trained Fille d’Esprit would challenge for the overall championship at Parx as she could collect a maximum of 37 points with a victory in the Roamin Rachel.
Based on MATCH Series rules for tie-breakers, Fille d’Esprit, with two wins versus one for Kaylasaurus, will win her division. Kaylasaurus will finish second. Both mares will also win bonus money offered by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, respectively.
Mark Grier’s Eons, a two time MATCH stakes winner in three starts this year, has 23 points to lead his division heading into the Bucks County. The Arnaud Delacour trainee is also nominated to a $100,000 turf stakes Oct. 1 at Laurel Park; if he opts for the Parx race, Eons would earn 5 bonus points for a fourth series start and the regular 10 for a victory–enough for the overall championship depending upon performances in the other divisions.
Second in the standings with 12 points is Jerry Romans Jr. and Franklin Smith Jr.’s English Tavern, who won an allowance race at Pimlico Race Course on Sept. 24. English Tavern, with two series starts for trainer Hamilton Smith, would have to start at Parx to qualify for bonus money. Runnymore Racing’s Beacon Hill, also nominated to the turf stakes on Oct. 1 at Laurel, has 10 points after three series outings and, depending on which horses compete at Parx, still has a chance to win the division title with a victory.
The Liberty Bell has been on the calendar for St. Omer’s Farm and Christopher Feifarek’s Beren, who sits atop his division with 17 points after two series starts. Trained by Robert Reid Jr., Beren must start at Parx to be eligible for bonus money.
Second in the standings with 10 points after three series starts is Pocket 3’s Racing’s Threes Over Deuces, who is nominated to a Delaware Certified Stakes at Delaware Park Sept. 30. He could win his division based on projected maximum points with a start at Parx depending on the performance of Beren.
The 2023 bonus money distribution offers up to $92,500 per division and $30,000 for the overall champion by points. For each division, first place pays $30,000 to the owner and $15,000 to the trainer; for second, $20,000/$10,000; and for third, $10,000/$7,500. For the overall champion, the owner receives an additional $20,000 and the trainer $10,000.
The Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and Virginia Thoroughbred Association have each agreed to offer $5,000 bonuses to breeders based on the performances of horses in the series for a potential total of $30,000. Pennsylvania and Virginia will recognize the top male and female state-bred runners by overall points earned, while Maryland will award bonuses to the top Maryland-bred and Maryland-sired runners by overall points earned.